Brook was a happy, healthy child meeting all the normal milestones…talking, crawling, walking, running, and so forth. However, in March 2005, Brook was diagnosed with an Ependymoma brain tumor – she was 2 ½ years old at the time. Several critical decisions were made in the months to follow and taking Brook to St. Jude was the best decision we made along the way.
After one resection surgery, chemotherapy and a few complications, it was time to move on to the final stage of Brook’s planned care: radiation. Yet, with some tumor still remaining, Brook’s doctors encouraged us to find a surgeon skilled enough to remove more of the tumor before starting radiation. It was at this time we were led to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and one of the best pediatric neurosurgeons in the country. He came recommended via Cleveland Clinic and Columbus Children’s Hospital.
In July 2005 we headed for the long trip south to Memphis, TN. The surgery was a huge success and Brook was spared almost all of the side effects we were warned about prior to the surgery. We came home for a brief time while Brook recovered from the surgery. In early August we headed back to St. Jude’s, this time knowing we were virtually moving there for the next eight weeks while Brook endured radiation treatments. St. Jude’s became our home away from home as Brook started radiation on her 3rd birthday. At the time it seemed like a pretty crummy birthday but in reality it was the start of treatments that were saving Brook’s life.
While at St. Jude’s we were provided housing (at the Ronald McDonald House of Memphis), food, social activities and discounts around Memphis. A few personal favorites of Brook’s are the Memphis Children’s Zoo and the Children’s Museum of Memphis. Most days at St. Jude’s were spent trying to fit in the medical necessities around all the children-oriented activities that were planned! Everyone from the patient to the siblings to the parents is made feel special.
Today, we are unbelievably happy that Brook is… healthy, in school, a twin sister, a big sister and many other things. She has check ups bi-annually and while the anticipation of test results causes much anxiety, Brook and her sisters love going back to St. Jude’s where they enjoy so many things.
Although St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital is miles away from Ohio, its generosity knows no boundaries. We met people from all over the United States including a few other families from Ohio receiving the same level of exceptional care. St. Jude’s is one of those places you hope no one ever needs but you’re so thankful it’s there when you do. It is the efforts and dollars of MANY that have made Brook’s extraordinary care possible. At St. Jude’s patients and their families are given answers, hope, and support.